Chewy Deep-Fried Tarantula Spider recipe: From 'The Eat-A-Bug Cookbook'

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The Eat-A-Bug Cookbook has been revised and updated for its 15th anniversary and author and self-proclaimed "Bug Chef" David George Gordon shares his ideas on how to make roaches and bees and crickets and centipedes more appetizing and palatable. He's even found a way to get the more adventurous to eat big hairy tarantula spiders.

Sure, it sounds like the ultimate revenge for an arachnophobe: Take one of the biggest spiders in the world, a tarantula, and boil it in scalding oil -- then eat it. (Cue the evil self-satisfied laughter.) But it isn't some type of revenge or even a form of confrontation therapy (although if someone uses this, this author wants full credit for this line of therapeutic treatment). It's an actual recipe in The Eat-A-Bug Cookbook -- in its latest "Revised" edition.

So how would you go about cooking some creepy-crawly that most people wouldn't go within a mile of (without protective glass walls)? You batter them first and deep-fry them, says Gordon.

"I singe off the hairs, dip them in tempura batter and then deep-fry them," he laughed in his interview with Business Insider (via Yahoo Finance). "I always say I'll eat anything deep-fried!"

As for eating them, Gordon is all about texture. "Tarantulas have a body armor that's very pliable," Gordon said. "Their legs are full of this long white muscle, and people are always surprised by how chewy they are."

Deep-Fried Tarantula Spiders are just one of the many somewhat strange but fascinating recipes David George Gordon has created to make dining on bugs more enjoyable. Noting that 80 percent of the world eats bugs on a regular basis, he says the West are the "weirdos" when it comes to bug cuisine. "Western ideas about taste are pretty narrowly-defined," he pointed out.

But he doesn't suggest tarantulas for the beginning bug eater. He recommends crickets, which he noted are light and crunchy. He also suggested they be frozen, "so they don't hop around in the saucepan."

But Gordon's favorite of all? Wax worms. He said he enjoys them because they are surprisingly sweet (because they eat honey throughout their lives). And they're cheap, available at most bait and tackle shops. He uses them in white chocolate and wax worm cookies. Their taste? He told the Business Insider they taste "a little bit like pistachio nuts."

The Eat-A-Bug Cookbook was first published in 1998. He got the idea for the cookbook when he was writing The Compleat Cockroach (1996) and discovered just how edible and nutritious the ubiquitous insects actually are. The original cookbook contained 33 recipes. The new revised edition contains 40.

Gordon has written 19 books to date on a wide variety of animal topics, including books on whales, snails, sharks, horses, dolphins, and, of course, cockroaches and tarantulas.

"Do I expect the whole world to start eating bugs?" he asked. "No, but I want to make people question their ideas about what's acceptable to eat and where those ideas come from," he said. "We eat chicken eggs, and that's kind of weird when you really think about it."

Gordon tours the country performing and cooking, sharing his culinary ideas.

Here's his Deep-Fried Tarantula Spider recipe:

2 cups canola or vegetable oil
2 frozen adult Texas brown, Chilean rose, or similar-sized tarantulas, thawed
1 cup tempura batter (scroll to recipe further down)
1 teaspoon smoked paprika

Directions:
1. In a deep saucepan or deep-fat fryer, heat oil to 350°F.

2. Take a sharp knife, sever abdomens from the two tarantulas, then discard. Singe off spider’s body hairs with a crème brûlée torch or butane cigarette lighter.

3. Dip spiders into tempura batter, thoroughly coat. Use slotted spoon or your hands to make sure each spiders' legs are spread "spread-eagled (so to speak)," Gordon writes) and not clumped together. Then drop spider into hot oil.
4. Deep-fry the spiders, one at a time, until the batter is lightly browned (about 1 minute). Remove spiders from oil, place on paper towels to drain.
5. Take knife, cut each spider in two lengthwise. Sprinkle with paprika and serve.

Tempura Batter

1 medium egg
1/2 cup cold water
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Directions:
1. Beat egg in a small mixing bowl until smooth. Slowly add cold water, continuing to beat until evenly mixed. Add flour and baking soda and beat gently until combined. Batter will appear a bit lumpy.

2. Let batter sit at room temperature while heating the oil for deep-frying.

Suggestion by David George Gordon: "Encourage your guests to try the legs first and, if still hungry, to nibble on the meat-filled mesothorax, avoiding the spider’s paired fangs, which are tucked away in the head region."

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For his Three Bee Salad and Cricket "Sheesh! Kabobs" recipes, see the Business Insider article. For more recipes from the Bug Chef, such as Scorpion Scallopine, check out his website at DavidGeorgeGordon.com.

(photo credit: Ten Speed Press, promotional use)